Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wet Wet Wet

Water has certainly been in the news lately, from the catastrophic floods in Cockermouth (a town I know well, and regularly visit; I've been in many of those flooded-out shops and pubs) to more localised downpours such as those we had Saturday evening.

As luck would have it, I was in the car, but it set me thinking . . .

Local Knowledge

There's an old saying that 'familiarity breeds contempt'. But used carefully, local knowledge can work for you. So it was that I was able to predict - from previous heavy rain - those locations where the road was likely to be submerged. I was right in some cases, wrong in others.

Stop Within the Distance You Can See To Be Clear

At times it was difficult to see very much - not helped by the driver in front deciding to have his rear fog light on . . . However, even staying 100 - 150m back, I was able to see how he (guessing) was reacting to the road ahead, and so when he braked firmly where there's usually no need it was a 'warning' for me.

Around the corner . . . and the road was submerged from verge to verge! 'parked' in it was a drowned car, accompanied by a breakdown van and a police car. Helpfully, the police had put out some 'arrow' signs - unhelpfully they had all their flashy lights going, it was difficult to see much as it was bouncing off every available wet surface.

See and Be Seen

Worse still, there was someone - I'm guessing police - stood in-line between where I had to drive and the police vehicle. Despite his hi-viz coat it was almost impossible to see hime due to the flood of bright lights.

Remember, kids, just because you can see someone it doesn't mean they can see you - however bright you are!

The Farmer Brown Test Revisited

You may have seen the 'Farmer Brown Test', which says: IF it looks stupid, it probably is, so don't do it.

A variation on 'too good [or cheap] to be true'

Another variation is: 'Just because it's smooth, flat and dark, doesn't mean it's a road'.

On the final (well, almost, but I wanted dramatic effect) roundabout before 'home' I realised just in time that what looked like a roundabout was actually a lake. I don't know what made me realise (although under street lights, remember this was in torrential rain, so the roads were already very wet), but it's a reminder to keep your speed down in such circumstances, and trust your 'spidey sense'.

Edit to add some more (and sort a couple of typos):

If you do have to pass through floods, try to determine whether the road has 'crown camber' (ie is higher in the centre between the opposing lanes) or 'super elevation' also known as 'cross fall' (where there is a slope from one side to the other). Knowing this can help you decide where the shallow water will be.

Then, keep your speed down to prevent a bow wave.


No comments: